Misdiagnosing Schizophrenia - Dr. Carolyn Dean MD ND

Misdiagnosing Schizophrenia

June 23, 2019

Check out this study done at Johns Hopkins where they found that “Half Of Schizophrenia Cases Misdiagnosed, Most Just Have Anxiety.” Along with a diagnosis of schizophrenia comes the stigma and the powerful antipsychotic drugs. How cruel is that! What is happening to medicine when a doctor can’t even diagnose anxiety? And how many people are affected? HALF! 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia actually have anxiety!

You may wonder how schizophrenia can be misdiagnosed. One of the authors blames “checklist psychiatry” — doctors using computer programs to reach diagnoses when certain criteria are met via pull down menus — for the frequent mistakes. The authors believe that doctors should refer patients to specialists for second opinions when making schizophrenia diagnoses.

Personally, I think it’s because some people with anxiety can have depersonalization making it difficult for a doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. Schizophrenia is a mental condition presenting with abnormal behavior, detachment, depersonalization, strange speech, and a decreased ability to understand reality.

According to Wikipedia “Depersonalization can consist of a detachment within the self, regarding one’s mind or body, or being a detached observer of oneself.”  And it’s related to stress and anxiety. “…degrees of depersonalization and derealization can happen to anyone who is subject to temporary anxiety or stress…chronic depersonalization is related to individuals who have experienced a severe trauma or prolonged stress/anxiety. Depersonalization is a prominent symptom of many mental disorders including schizophrenia. 

So, there you have it – stress and anxiety can cause depersonalization. I do have a concern that people rush to their doctor with any and all symptoms, which means they can be in the throes of anxiety and exhibit depersonalization and be misdiagnosed as schizophrenic.

NOTE: I haven’t spoken much about marijuana. I’m really not for it. I’ve seen it be a trigger for depersonalization and worse. That may happen if a person is using it to calm their anxiety and when they come down from their high, their anxiety is worse, they light up again and again caught in a cycle of chronic usage and chronic anxiety. This is where I come in and tell people to use magnesium for their anxiety instead of medicating with anti-anxiety drugs or marijuana. 

Magnesium-deficient anxiety can have so many other magnesium deficiency symptoms that it also obscures a clear diagnosis of schizophrenia. A patient may be twitching and jerking with muscle spasms. They can have insomnia and depersonalization like many of our customers have described. Their insomnia can cause fatigue, apathy and depression and the whole picture is misdiagnosed. What can make it worse is the way a patient presents to the doctor. If you go in and say your symptoms are “driving you crazy” and you “can’t stand it anymore” your doctor may be shocked into asking you leading questions like “Do you hear voices?” If you have a niggling voice in the back of your mind – like we all do – and you say Yes to your doctor, then BOOM, they diagnose you with schizophrenia and pack you off to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist may ask more leading questions and BOOM you are on antipsychotics, which can cause more magnesium deficiency and more symptoms of mental illness. Vicious, vicious, vicious circle!

Mental illness is yet another condition that may be driven by magnesium deficiency and then the drugs that are prescribed cause more magnesium deficiency.

I found a journal article “Interactions between Magnesium and Psychotrophic Drugs” online. There are many classes of psychotropic drugs  – antidepressants, antimanic drugs, antipsychotics, analgesic opioids, and MORE. These drugs have interactions with magnesium that are being wildly misinterpreted by modern medicine. Here’s what medicine knows from their testing: RBC magnesium is decreased in patients with severe major depression versus normal subjects. During therapy with Zoloft or Elavil for depression, RBC magnesium increases significantly. 

In patients with acute paranoid schizophrenia, RBC magnesium concentration is decreased versus healthy subjects. Haloperidol or risperidone significantly increased RBC magnesium concentration. 

Antimanic drugs like carbamazepine or sodium valproate significantly increased RBC magnesium in patients with bipolar disorder type I. Increased magnesium status positively correlated with enhancement of the clinical state in all these conditions. The authors conclude that “data sustain the idea that an increase of RBC magnesium is involved in the mechanism of action of some psychotropic drugs.”

Lord Sufferin’ Cats! So the researchers think that magnesium helps psychotropic drugs work better! NO that’s NOT what’s happening. Here’s the truth. RBC magnesium is found to be low in mental health conditions. When psychotrophic drugs are given, they either directly or indirectly deplete magnesium even more. Since the heart absolutely requires magnesium in order to sustain its electrical activity, when faced with this additional deficit, stored magnesium is recruited from the bones and muscles to keep the heart beating. This elevation of magnesium is registered in blood testing as beneficial and said to be a result of the drugs! DANG. It’s the body desperately trying to stay alive that is increasing the magnesium. And it’s the magnesium that is probably making people feel better for the 6-8 weeks before the drugs stop working because there is so little magnesium left and the drug side effects (which are really magnesium deficiency symptoms) build up and the patient often quits therapy. That’s the dynamic I see between psychotrophic drugs and magnesium.

I’ve reported the above phenomenon many times over the years. I first heard about it from magnesium expert, Dr. Mildred Seelig. She said she left the pharmaceutical industry when she realized that drugs would artificially elevate magnesium levels and make it seem like the drugs were working, then eventually the drugs would deplete magnesium unleashing a myriad of side effects.

I’m certainly not saying that with an online supplement company that we are able to work with schizophrenia but I have written Magnesium Deficient Anxiety, which can help people learn about the benefits of ReMag for this condition. Further support can be obtained from ReAline with its food-based and methylated B vitamins, and ReMyte for its multiple minerals.

Learn about magnesium, and much more, by subscribing to my health tips by email. You can subscribe here: https://drcarolyndean.com/subscribe

Carolyn Dean MD ND

The Doctor of the Future®

RESOURCES: Along the borders and in the links of my web site you can find my books, writings, and my call-in radio show. Email your questions to: questions@drcarolyndeanlive.com.

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